Anonymous as she may be, H.E.R (an acronym for Having Everything Revealed,) has had a whirlwind couple of years. She first made headlines when her debut EP, H.E.R. Volume 1, a soulful 7-track collection of ballads, reached number one on the iTunes R&B chart in 2016. Having found fans in the likes of Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Usher, and Kendall Jenner, the California native went on to join Bryson Tiller on tour last year, and unveiled a follow-up EP titled H.E.R. Vol. 2, which she is currently supporting with her very own Lights On Tour.
Earlier this month, the singer (born Gabi Wilson) who is currently working on her third EP took a break from her headlining tour to hit the Puma stage at the sixth edition of Sole DXB for the first time. “I’m so excited to be in Dubai,” she exclaims. She’s wearing an oversized Fenty Puma by Rihanna varsity sweater and white cropped sweatpants, which she elevates with intricate henna decorations on her hands. Her larger-than-life, burnished tendrils frame her soft features. Preferring to keep her identity as mysterious as possible, the enigmatic 20-year-old hides behind a pair of black, oversized sunglasses.
“I always feel like we focus too much on image and the flashiness of what it means to be an artist,” she says. “I think people often tend to listen to music with their eyes and not their ears, and I just wanted my work to shine, and to be able to convey my message without imagery taking away from that.”
But although her exact identity is shrouded in mystery, the breakout singer’s discography is an extremely personal collection of confessionals. Her emotional tracks address everything from love, pain, heartbreak, and loss that caters to women and men of any age. “I’m not trying to change you/I’m just scared you’re gone away” she croons with her smooth, haunting voice in the Vol. 2 track Gone Away. On the track, H.E.R addresses the way that two people in a relationship can sometimes drift. “I was very emotional when I wrote that song,” she recalls. “It’s a very personal song, a lot of people say they relate to it.”
However, the singer admits that she isn’t really thinking about what is most relatable to her fans when she’s writing. “I always say that my music is my diary,” she reveals. “It’s very personal to me. Sometimes I’ll just go on my piano and just start playing what I’m feeling. It all depends on what I’m feeling at the moment.”
The daughter of a musician father, the multi-talented singer admits there was never a time where she wasn’t making music. A former child prodigy of sorts, H.E.R plays a number of instruments including the piano, drums, guitar, and bass and snagged a record deal with RCA Records (the same label Kehlani, Sza, and PartyNextDoor are signed to) at the tender age of 14. But despite making music for the past decade, H.E.R is still taken aback by all of the attention she’s receiving. “It’s so very surreal to me, it doesn’t feel like it’s really happening,” she says. “I’m just thinking about everything happening from being on tour with Bryson Tiller to headlining my own tour. I’ve received so much love from these two EP’s, it’s just really exciting and fun— and now I’m in Dubai because of my music.”